Masked robbers lock shop staff in cupboard

John Phillips MASKED robbers armed with a 10in knife locked up supermarket staff in a cupboard before escaping with the safe holding thousands of pounds. The raiders stormed into McColl, Oxlow Lane, Dagenham, when the women opened the back door to pick up the morning p

John Phillips

MASKED robbers armed with a 10in knife locked up supermarket staff in a cupboard before escaping with the safe holding thousands of pounds.

The raiders stormed into McColl, Oxlow Lane, Dagenham, when the women opened the back door to pick up the morning papers last week.

One man stifled the manager's screams by placing a hand over her mouth and they left the frightened women in the unlit wine cupboard for one and a half hours.

They dragged away the 1ft by 1.5ft metal safe containing at least �6,000 and stole the women's handbags with keys and personal documents, forcing them to cancel credit cards and change door locks at home.

Traumatised staff member Patricia Howarth, 63, and her boss were freed after a bread delivery man realised the store had not opened up.

Most Read

The armed robbers, aged in their late 20s, are still at large this week.

The two women were unharmed, but were too scared to go back to work.

Patricia's husband Colin, 64, told the Recorder: "They had no key to the safe, so they took the whole safe with them and then locked them in the cupboard. They were frightened because it was pitch black."

The store is now manned by their colleagues.

Anyone with information, can call Det Con Nigel Chambers on 020 8217 7735 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.